Microsoft settles software case with own supplier

Microsoft has settled a counterfeit software case with one of its own disk replicators. The company says that it has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with France's MPO.

MPO made thousands of unauthorised copies of Microsoft server software under fake licences and copies of the software are still turning up for sale.

In one month in 2003, MPO's Thai subsidiary produced 20,000 fake copies of Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server software. In the year following that the copies were detected and traced back to the Thai MPO facility.

That factory said that it produced the copies under a licence which it believed to be genuine but which turned out to be fake.

Once MPO found out what had happened it co-operated with Microsoft on a worldwide investigation to find the still-circulating copies of unauthorised software, which Microsoft has praised.

"We appreciate the steps MPO has taken to tighten their security procedures to prevent a recurrence of this type of wholesale counterfeiting of Microsoft software, and to help track down all those responsible for distributing the counterfeits," said David Finn, Associate General Counsel at Microsoft for Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting.

“We are pleased to have settled this case with the MPO Group so quickly and look forward to an ongoing relationship with them,” said Finn.

Software fraud in the UK is often pursued by the Business Software Alliance, which earlier this month issued claims in the courts against two organisations it says are using unlicensed software.

Teleconferencing company ACT of Harrow and law firm Thompson & Co of Tooting Broadway were the subject of court action in early December.

The BSA said in the High Court that ACT was using illegal software on 125 machines, while it claimed in the Central London County Court that Thompson had unauthorised software running on 23 PCs. In each case the software was predominantly the Microsoft Office suite.

"The BSA takes a hard line against the blatant disregard of software licensing regulations,” said Sarah Coombes, director of legal affairs at the BSA. “The BSA and its members are happy to advise and work with companies that need guidance with regard to software licensing and help them through the compliance process, so there is no excuse. Those who deliberate use illegal software and consistently refuse to comply can expect to face serious consequences.”

The BSA says that it is currently pursuing investigations of 100 UK companies for software licence infringement.